Posts Tagged ‘4g’

LTE Becomes a Facilities-Based Way of Attacking Verizon Landline Business

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
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AT&T Home Base is a service supplying voice and Internet access using AT&T’s mobile network, instead of its fixed line network. That might not be too surprising. AT&T has hinted it will do so over the past couple of years.

The catch is where AT&T is doing so, and what it means. Home Bae primarily is being sold “out of market,” in Verizon fixed network territories. In other words, AT&T is using its mobile network to compete with another telco’s fixed network.

Though mobile service providers compete head to head with other mobile service providers all the time, it has not been the established practice for incumbent fixed network service providers to compete with other fixed network providers, using owned facilities. This marks a change.

AT&T Home Base now is available in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., all except Kentucky being areas served by Verizon’s fixed line networks.

In other words, AT&T’s third generation and fourth generation networks are the platform for what in an earlier time would have been called an “out of market” assault on Verizon, even though the traditional structure of the landline business, since the AT&T divestiture in 1984, has been based on “exclusive” local service territories.

Critics will argue, with some justification, that mobile broadband, used as a fixed service platform, is not an equivalent offering, especially in terms of price per gigabyte or size of the usage bucket. But customers are smart enough to choose the service that makes most sense, given the actual circumstances of each household’s usage pattern.

The significance is that Long Term Evolution now is being promoted by AT&T as an Internet access enabler, and that LTE also is becoming a way for AT&T to combine with Verizon fixed networks, on a facilities basis, outside of AT&T’s traditional fixed network footprint.

It is a sign of just one more way the communications business is changing. Compettioin between incumbent carriers has been commonplace for some time. But it has not been normal for an incumbent telco to compete outside its core markets with another incumbent telco, using owned facilities.

That line now has been crossed.

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U.K. Mobile Operators Can Refarm 3G Spectrum for 4G At Will

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
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U.K. mobile service providers will be able to repurpose their 2G and 3G spectrum for Long Term Evolution 4G, without applying for specific permission to do so, under new rules promulgated by regulator Ofcom.

Previously, only EE (and 3, which purchased some spectrum from EE, but has not yet been able to deploy that spectrum) had been given permission to conduct such redeployment operations, though all the major operators won new spectrum in the LTE auctions as well.

The current 900 MHz and 1800 MHz licenses held by Vodafone and Telefónica only had permitted the use of 2G and 3G technologies.

The new move by Ofcom moves away from the specific licensing rules that specified not only the purposes for which spectrum could be used but also which technologies (air interfaces) could be employed as well.

The new rules are more flexible, and allow carriers to make business choices about how to deploy networks, rather than being restricted to specific network options.

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5G Will be Very Different from All Prior Mobile Networks

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
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Will fifth generation networks be a “network of networks” or “heterogeneous network” rather than a single air interface on the model of 3G or 4G.

That would be a big shift, but there is growing sentiment that 5G will not represent a single air interface on the model of previous mobile network generations.

Traditionally, “higher speed” has been a key characteristic of each succeeding new generation of networks. But that might not be as much the case for 5G, as the 4G Long Term Evolution standards, for example, already allows 1 Gbps operation.

To exceed that, much more new spectrum would have to be released by global regulators, and that seems unlikely.

So the key differentiators might be attributes other than speed, such as the ability to flexibly support a virtual network that integrates many different air interfaces, protocols, frequencies and network types.

In the past, new mobile generations have been assigned new frequency bands and wider spectral bandwidth per frequency channel (1G up to 30 kHz, 2G up to 200 kHz, 3G up to 5 MHz, and 4G up to 40 MHz).

The problem is that physical availability of spectrum usable for longer-range mobile apps is limited.

That means suppliers will be looking at battery life, coverage and throughput flexibility and the ability to match apps and device requirements in an affordable way.

Some new spectrum will be made available. LTE deployments using 700 MHz and 800 MHz spectrum will be added as well.

Small cell deployments are expected in the 3500 MHz band.

All of that points up the importance of spectrum sharing and other new methods of creating new bandwidth.

Unlicensed bands such as 5 GHz or 60 GHz will offer additional traffic offload options for best-effort traffic of less critical applications without quality requirements.

So there are lots of good reasons why Ericsson, for example, thinks a 5G network will be quite different from earlier mobile network generations.

“The long-term outcome of this trend is what we refer to as 5G: the set of seamlessly integrated radio technologies” that collectively, integrated seamlessly, will represent a fifth generation of wireless networks, Ericsson argues in a white paper.

One huge assumption is that there will be a massive increase in the number of devices that must communicate. In the future, the roughly five billion human-centric connected devices are expected to be surpassed between 10-fold and 100-fold by communicating
machines including surveillance cameras, smart-city, smart-home and smart-grid devices, and connected sensors.

So there is a massive scale issue: a transition from five billion devices to 50 billion or perhaps even 500 billion connected devices.

A thousand-fold increase in required bandwidth is the other huge assumption. Beyond 2020, wireless communication systems will have to support more than 1,000 times today’s traffic volume, Ericsson also argues.

But bandwidth requirements will vary. It is possible many M2M apps and devices will not require lots of bandwidth, while consumer apps might require hundreds of megabits and some shared-use locations will require gigabits.

Likewise, latency and reliability requirements will vary as well. So it will make sense to match requirements to network segments and capabilities to match use cases to cost and network requirement parameters.

So 5G might be radically different from earlier generations of mobile networks. First of all, should 5G develop as Ericsson foresees, it will be the first network that actually is a network of networks, not a single air interface.

The complexity of such an undertaking also suggests 5G will not arrive in fully-formed fashion as soon as typically is the case for mobile networks, which tend to be replaced about every decade.

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